Just as golf needs Tiger Woods, it could use a few more characters like Boo Weekley even though it seems as if both are one of a kind.
Weekley, who is battling back from injuries that have hampered him for more than a year, did not qualify for the Masters and is coming off a two-week break to play in this week’s Verizon Heritage, which he won in 2007 and 2008 for his only PGA Tour victories. "Boo’s been out in the woods," Jimmy Johnston, his agent, said of perhaps golf’s most avid hunter and fisherman. "He’s been working with trainer Randy Myers on his fitness and is feeling good.
"He seems to be over the injuries and is just trying to get back into form. He’s had some time off, but now he’s got a good stretch of tournaments coming up: the Verizon, TPC and Quail Hollow.
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"I think he’s ready to go."
The 36-year-old Weekley, the PGA Tour’s genuine country bumpkin, has struggled for the last year and a half after turning around what had been a journeyman’s career with three terrific seasons from 2006 to ’08.
After becoming something of a folk hero, Weekley has finished in the Top 10 only once in 32 official events since he played a huge role in the United States regaining the Ryder Cup in September of 2008 at Valhalla.
His right shoulder bothered him a bit for several years before he tore the labrum during the final round of the 2009 Players Championship and was forced to withdraw.
In addition, plantar fasciitis in both feet has plagued him for much of his career.
"(The shoulder) affected me a bunch, mentally more than physically," said Weekley, whose best finish the rest of the 2009 season was a tie for 13th in the Open Championship as he tried to play through it.
"I should have never (kept playing), and that’s how I know I won’t overdo it again. It didn’t hurt bad, it was just aggravating. It wouldn’t bring you to a tear or anything."
Of the foot injury he said: "I’ve had it on and off for about 10 years. My right foot right now. It might be my left foot next year. Two years ago, I had a shot in my left foot. Right now, it’s the right one. Plantar fasciitis. I don’t know how to spell it, though.
"I’m falling apart a little bit at a time. But it’s getting better."
Weekley needed a break, physically and mentally, after last season, and he took it by disappearing into the woods near his home in Jay, Fla., where he owns 260 acres of land.
He also owns 900 acres near Birmingham, Ala., and plans to buy more. "The good Lord isn’t making any more hunting land," Weekley said. "I’m going to invest so I can take care of my family, and I’m going to buy more hunting land."
Weekley has always said that when he makes enough money, he will put on his camouflage clothes and disappear from the PGA Tour forever. But he’s not ready to give it up just yet.
He didn’t play an official event last season after the Deutsche Bank Championship in the first week of September, but he was ready to go at the start of this year.
"He had a big year and a half where he was being pulled a bunch of different ways (because of his popularity)," Johnston said. "This (offseason) was his time to reflect a little bit and figure out what he needed to do.
"He just wanted to get away from (golf), but then he told me, ‘I’m ready to play. For the first time in a year and a half, I’m ready to get back out there.’"
Weekley has missed the cut in four of his nine events on the PGA Tour this season, but his game seemed to be coming around when he finished in the Top 25 in two of his last three tournaments — the Puerto Rico Open and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
He’s trying not to expect too much so soon, taking a lesson from his hunting.
"Just like golf, bow-hunting for deer will challenge your patience," Weekley said. "Golf is about being patient, controlling your emotions and managing your talent. I’ve learned that patience is one of the key essentials to having a happy life.
" … Once I get my feet back under me, I know I’m going to play well again."
That’s something all of his fans and the media are hoping for because Weekley is one of the easiest players on the PGA Tour to root for and one of the most fun to write about.
When he reappeared on the circuit early this year, reporters asked what he had been up to.
"I ain’t been doing nothing," Weekley said with a big smile. "I’ve been hunting."